Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

Rhythm and Rust

Rhythm and Rust
History, Heritage, Honor told through the Object

Exhibition: August 3 – September 17, 2022
Reception and Artist Walk Through: Saturday, August 20, 12pm-2pm
Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm
Location: Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804

In her solo exhibition, Rhythm and Rust, artist Donna Gatson presents a series of assemblages she has created using vintage objects to compose sculptural notes that speak to her heritage, thoughts and inspirations as a Black woman.

Gatson uses the object as her medium, assembling parts and pieces to create a rhythm that conjures up ancestral memories. In her alchemy, Gatson combines objects that were once used as tools to dehumanize such as ledgers, chains, and cuffs with treasured family heirlooms imbued with generational strength and resilience. In this process Gatson forms assemblages that have the power to transmute historical reality, where objects that were once used to dehumanize become a source of humanity.

Using old victrola parts, violin bodies and the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Gatson welcomes us into her ancestral memory and leads us through a series of assemblages that tell the legends of family heroes that surmounted the realities of slavery and the Jim Crow south. We are then brought around to a collection of oracles made of doll heads that serve as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to maintain our humanity. Lastly Gatson presents us with a collection of Freedom cuffs created of reclaimed copper as manifestation of the prayers, hopes and dreams of Gatson’s enslaved ancestors.

Donna Gatson is primarily a self taught emerging artist. She was born and raised on the Monterey Peninsula with deep ties to the South and Southwest. Driven by an uncontrollable urge to create art, she uses the mediums of watercolor, graphite pencil, metal and found objects. Her work ranges from Black Country Folk art, to a style she refers to as “Afro/Deco Cubism”. Gatson is also one of the few African American jewelry silversmiths in the country. She was taught traditional Native silversmithing by renowned Hopi silversmith Gerald Lomaventema on the Hopi reservation. Gatson takes the traditional techniques she learned and uses them to create her own Afro, Asian, Anasazi influenced designs in silver and copper jewelry.

This exhibition is part of the Art of the African Diaspora: Luminaries series, and is generously funded by the East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation.

Art of the African Diaspora: Luminaries
Luminaries is a series of four solo exhibitions that shine a spotlight on the remarkable work of four artists – Diamela Cutiño, J.B. Broussard, Donna Gatson and Daniel W. White – who have participated in Art of the African Diaspora but who have maintained an inconspicuous public image throughout their storied artistic careers. The four exhibitions will be presented in the West Gallery throughout 2022, as part of the 25th anniversary of Art of the African Diaspora.

Front image: Donna Gatson, Ella, 2018

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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804-1600


Contact and Visitor Info
Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 10am-4pm